Review: Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger
I received this book for free from the mentioned source in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.
Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Series: Finishing School #1
Published by: Little Brown Books for Young Readers on 2/5/2013
Genres: Steampunk, Supernatural, YA Historical, Young Adult
View on: Goodreads
Grab it: Buy on Amazon
About the Book:
Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea--and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right--but it's a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine's certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.
If you’re looking for steampunk meets finishing school that secretly teaches espionage skills, look no further than Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger. Set in the 1800s and following the story of young Sophronia as she gets sent off to this strange finishing school, I am really glad that I got to read this as my first journey into the steampunk genre.
Sophronia Temminnick has never really fit in with the rest of her family. The 14 year old couldn’t care less about fancy gowns and balls and figuring out how to properly curtsey. She’s much more interested in climbing and asking why things work the way they work. So when her mother made the decision to ship her off to finishing school, she was less than thrilled. When she arrives at the school, however, she discovers that there is more than meets the eye, and the girls are learning a little more than social etiquette.
Along the way, Sophronia meets some new friends, Dimity and her brother Pillover, as well as the sooties who keep the school running. She also finds a rival in Monique, an older girl who is forced to spend her time in lessons with Sophronia and the rest of the debuts as a form of punishment. Dimity was probably my favorite side character. She’s a disappointment to her family because rather than learn the ways of espionage, all Dimity wants to do is become a lady and host parties. A lover of all things sparkly, she is a loyal friend and helps Sophronia a lot along the way, especially with her curtsey.
I didn’t realize when I began reading this that it was a steampunk novel, so it took me a little bit to get a feel for the world and all of the mechanical things within it (including mechanimals!). I loved Sophronia as a character. She’s strong willed, curious, and isn’t afraid of getting into a little bit of trouble now and then. She can have a few not so smart moments every now and then, but she is only 14 years old, so it’s to be expected.
The writing style and the dialogue kept me amused throughout the entire thing. The characters are fairly sassy and can definitely be sarcastic and cheeky at times, which was nice to hear from. The novel is probably aimed toward middle schoolers, so I would keep that in mind when you decide whether or not it’s something you’d enjoy.
One of the things that kind of bothered me throughout the thing is that some of the names were just ridiculous. Sophronia took me a while to get used to. Bumbersnoot is the name of a mechanimal in the novel, and Mrs. Barnaclegoose is another character in the story. I’m sure they’re meant to be silly, but I couldn’t get over how ridiculous some of the names were.
Although the story does take place in a school, there is plenty of adventure to be had with werewolves, vampire teachers, and flywaymen who will do whatever it takes to get a mysterious prototype.
Overall, I give Etiquette & Espionage 4 out of 5 controllers. It’s an amusing read, a great story, and I’m really looking forward to the second book.